In the old masters' landscapes,
we find the trees had his roots
beneath the oil paint.
In the west, the falling light still glowed
from the laid-to-rest heavens.
The clustered housetops glittered.
There was that sound like the wind forgetting
in the branches that meant something
nobody could translate: Only, things
were getting ready to happen out of frame.
A dream was circling us like a bird.
The future was the threat we Americans felt
we could escape. Most of us agreed:
The tyrant was the worst disease
and the cause of all others.
From the old masters' landscapes, we know now,
he folded the distorted story of us into his cuff.
A generalized will, a fantasy, imposed by force
and held despite our disbelief.
It had been the darkness between act
and revelation, when everything appeared normal
but wasn't, which had been so terrible.
On television, before his flags, he acted as if
he'd just been born of us, into the cerement
of broken trees along these neighborhoods
at dusk. He speaks: His mouth is the disease
syntactically disarranging us. Or he's the fly,
born of our wound, who we will need to brush away.
Sources: Wistlawa Szymborska, Federico Garcia Lorca, Akhmatova, Simone Muench, Eavan Boland, John Ashbery, Claudia Rankine,
Galway Kinell, William Blake, W.H. Auden, Karl Ove Knausgaard